The Sweetest Place on Earth was bittersweet for Faith Christian on Saturday afternoon. The defending Class A state champion Lions (18-3), who won a crown on that very pitch one year ago, fell 1-0 in overtime to District Seven champion Winchester Thurston at the PIAA final in Hershey Park Stadium.
The Bears emerged from a hard fought match as the new state champs when Oliver Daboo netted his 20th goal of the season with 8:06 left in overtime. Local residents were able to watch the match’s live broadcast on the PCN TV Network.
Faith carried a 14-match win streak into Saturday’s final. “I think we’re just hitting our stride,” Lions head coach Ryan Clymer shared last Wednesday. “The game plan has been working for each team that we’ve played. They’ve all been slightly different and the players are buying into that. The forwards are looking for each other. The defense is clicking and backing each other up. The midfield is taking every game personally. These kids are hitting their stride at the right time.”
Both teams had two shots each ricochet off the crossbar in regulation. A point-blank attempt from Faith in the 56th minute that bounced off the bar was especially agonizing.
It was the first time that Faith took on the Bears, the 2019 Class A runner-up. “We’ll watch a lot of film on (Winchester Thurston),” Clymer explained. “I don’t know anyone out in Pittsburgh that coaches, so we’re going to have to rely solely on film and pick it apart.
“When you look at teams, you can’t really tell how big they are, how determined they are and how organized they are,” Clymer continued. “Film can tell you a lot, but until you get on the field and actually go up for a 50/50 ball and see a team, it’s tough to tell. If we play like we did in the last three or four matches, I think we have a good shot.”
It had been a four-tuitous postseason for Faith. Including district play, the Lions had scored four goals in four of their first five playoff matches.
“The biggest thing is that they are putting their shots on target right now,” Clymer explained. “Our practices have been 90% finishing. And it’s been working.